The magnificent thing…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s featured dance is the polka. Come on Stella, let’s polka round the kitchen! Come on! Put a bit of life into girl!…
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I have a memory from my early childhood of being taken out shopping by my mother on the nearby main road that was lined with small shops on each side. These shops were interesting places: the staring eyes and the gawping desperate mouths of the fish on the fishmongers’ marble slab, the hanging strings of pink and grey sausages, the red bloody meat, and the couple of bloody half sheep’s heads (one eye each) in the butcher’s – didn’t like those!, the colourful heaped up fruit and veg on trestle tables encroaching onto the pavement, those three or four heavy-looking shiny black things with lovely incised gold lettering displayed in undertaker’s window – the undertaker was called Mr Boddy by the way…
We went into the hardware shop: lengths of yellow, thick and thin, long and short, bamboo sticking up out of narrow boxes on the floor, strange smells of bags of seeds and earthy gardening things, a couple of shiny green and red-cogged lawnmowers, one slightly larger than the other, shiny ‘canvas’ brightly patterned hard-wearing tablecloths, grand new galvanised silver buckets, cheerful coloured crockery and smiling chubby dark brown pot teapots, big and small, ‘brown teapots make the best tea, never buy a white one or a metal one’ mother said…
This is the shop where we bought the ‘thing’. As soon as I saw the moustached brown-coated shop keeper hand it over the counter, I was hoping that it was being bought for me, but it really looked too large and expensive to be a toy. I had toys of course, toys were great, but they didn’t look ‘real’, this thing definitely looked real. Toys tended to be made of brightly coloured plastic or sometimes pale varnished wood and were particularly light in weight. Two or three years after that day, I was given a pair of shiny toy cowboy guns, revolvers, whose cylinders didn’t revolve at all, but were moulded into the body; they came in white plastic holsters with stars on them, and looked quite flashy, but when handled and brandished at people they felt lightweight and a bit flimsy, they were ‘chrome plated’ plastic of course. They did, I recall, fire percussion caps, but only if they were in the right mood, and if the plastic levers and cogs inside decided that they would cooperate in the fun…
But back to that day. My mother paid for the thing, and holding it by its handle, thanked the shop keeper – I reached out and touched it. It was cold hard metal, it was black, it was round, and it was hollow… I stared at it, wondering how on earth such a beautifully shaped thing could be made from hard-hard metal without any nails or screws or rivets holding its curves together. I didn’t know what it was, but it was far better than any of my toys! I didn’t care what it might be used for, I just wanted to possess it, to call it mine and proudly show it to people, and to touch it when I liked, and marvel at its sturdy construction and its shape. Yes, it was the best and most impressive iron kettle that I’d ever seen; it lived with us and did its daily job for many years…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in archeology, brain, cool, design, Dulltown, history, Hull.UK., humour, information, learning, magic, mind, observations, seeing, serendipity, story, surrealism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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